By Andrea Winkjer Collin, Editor, North Dakota Horizons
My favorite holiday of the year is the 4th of July, because of the family times we share -- and it doesn't involve my buying and wrapping gifts, like at Christmas!
Today is another independence day that I am celebrating. It is May 17th, Syttende Mai, the day Norwegians - and those of us who are of Norwegian descent - celebrate our heritage. This day marks the 199th anniversary of the signing of the Norwegian Constutition after Norway gained independence from Sweden.
I was fortunate to be on a college study tour in Norway on May 17 and was able to watch the big parade in Oslo. I still have vivid memories of this parade, seeing all the groups of people, including many students, march down the street in their national dress waving Norwegian flags.
Being of 100 percent Norwegian descent, I don't celebrate the customs of more than one heritage, just Norway's. That could explain why throughout my life I have been "all in" with these traditions!
I love the stories of my college friend, Randy, who grew up in southwestern North Dakota. His mom was Norwegian and his dad a German from Russia. He said he loved attending the weddings of his dad's family -- they were more fun that the gatherings of the Norwegians on his mom's side. What? Norwegians not fun? I can't believe that! They must have a different definition of fun!
To celebrate today, I made a batch of lefse last night. I used a recipe that is not traditional, but to me it has a lot of merit. If you value the finished product over the process, then this is for you. It is mixed cold with potato flakes, evaporated milk and 7-UP. The traditional recipes require time for cooling the mixture before rolling out, so it takes longer. From start to finish, all by myself, this took one hour and 45 minutes last night. I also like it because when you use potato flakes, the consistency is always the same, unlike the varying moisture content in fresh potatoes. I have enough trouble rolling out the dough with a consistent dough texture, let alone having to adjust the recipe when I mix it up.
As fun as this is to put together, I doubt my friend Randy's German relatives would get excited about this new lefse recipe! However, I encourage you to try it and let me know what you think!
Mr. Lefse's Lefse
(Developed by Mr. Lefse, Bob Thompson of Grand Forks
and appearing in the "Team Jason Cooking Up A Cure Cookbook"
that celebrates the life of Jason Stadstad)
5 cups Hungry Jack Potato Flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups cold water
1 cup evaporated milk, chilled
10 oz. 7-UP, chilled
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
Stir together potato flakes, salt and sugar. Add the water, milk, 7-UP, and oil, stirring after each is added. Add flour and stir with a spoon until crumbly. Mix with hands until dough forms. Make golf ball size balls, 24-32, depending on how large you want your lefse.
Roll on a floured surface until paper thin, using flour to prevent sticking. A pastry sock helps prevent sticking. Using a lefse stick, lift lefse round and unroll onto lefse griddle. Cook on high (360 to 400 degrees) until lefse steams and has bubbly surface. Flip and cook other side. Serve with butter and sugar.